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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
OYAP machinist displays solid work ethic

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

Robert Granicolo is a busy man.

Apprenticing as a machinist at a well-respected business called Competition Automotive, Granicolo is learning a very specific skill that's in high demand. Developing valuable professional relationships in the morning, Granicolo attends classes in the afternoon, as he carefully weighs the different career options available to him in the automotive arena.
OYAP apprentice Robert Granicolo is training at Competition Automotive to be an machinist.

Although his resume and time management skills may suggest otherwise, Granicolo is still a teenager -- in Grade 11 -- at Richmond Hill High School.

"Rob has shown us that he has the work ethic, the commitment and the initiative to really use the opportunities before him," says Jacquie Corneman, co-op educator at Richmond Hill H. S.

One of Granicolo's greatest opportunities has been the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, OYAP enables Granicolo to apprentice in the skilled trade of his choice, gain high school credits and accumulate hours and skills toward his college level apprenticeship and eventual certification.

"Rob would normally receive two high school credits for his apprenticeship with Competition Automotive," Corneman says. "But he has repeatedly requested -- and been granted -- extra work. As a result, he is entitled to three credits. It's a testament to Rob's initiative, his employer's willingness to accommodate the program as well as OYAP's ability to accommodate each student."

In conjunction with his placement, Granicolo attends a class on employability skills, one goal of which is to identify and evaluate his progress at Competition Automotive.

For Granicolo, the apprenticeship has been ideal. "Competition Automotive has been excellent. They work on everything from very expensive, high performance engines to stock engines off a regular dealership. They let me get involved, but I learn a lot even when I'm observing," Granicolo says.
Robert Grancicolo

Granicolo's progress is also monitored through regular reports by his employer. Evidently, these evaluations have been positive: "Rob is keen, mature and he contributes," says Doug Lipps, owner of Competition Automotive and Granicolo's supervisor. "After his placement ends this week and as his in-class schedule permits, we'll keep him on as a paid part-time employee."

The community-minded efforts of business people like Lipps have a significant impact on the success of OYAP. "Doug has been sponsoring high school apprentices from the beginning," Corneman says. "He's seen it all -- the great employees like Rob as well as the ones who struggle. And Doug repeatedly comes forward as a mentor to these kids. He shows them the way toward a future that can be better -- he's quite remarkable."

Granicolo's placement has confirmed that the automotive trades are his niche. "Competition Automotive works strictly on engines and I really enjoy the work, but eventually I'd like to try some regular auto mechanics like transmissions," Granicolo says.

"The industry is crying for auto machinists," Corneman says. "But since the college program for a machinist is only offered in British Columbia, Rob will likely decide to certify as an automotive technician and may place a personal emphasis on machining."

That choice would include three eight-week courses at Centennial College, subsidized through OYAP and in tandem with a related full-time apprenticeship. Says Granicolo, "I plan to explore all my options in automotive."

Regardless of his final choice, Granicolo has the solid support of a committed educator, a remarkable businessman, and a well planned government initiative. As he takes full advantage of his OYAP opportunities, Robert Granicolo proves that he is more than a busy man -- he's a smart one with a bright future.

(Aunie Edwards ( is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)

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